The people who are driven by passion always (or may be most frequently) end up in alienation by society and in loneliness. I always wondered why that is so. How come brilliant minds like scholars, Sufis, scientists, writers, artists and great musicians end up in such an agony. Still I found most of them contended. It seemed like societal norms did not apply on them. So the agony part was always doubtful. I was told that they become narcissists and hence they lose the balance that social adjustment requires. I tried to study the private lives of these people. From Aristotle to Russell, Voltaire to Nietzsche, Einstein to Edison and Planck, Faiz Ahmed Faiz to Dr. Abdus Salam and Eqbal Ahmed, Muneer Niazi to Michael Jackson.
I found that they too tried hard to adjust, they wanted to adjust but somehow they were rejected in their private lives. I was having a discussion with my father last week when he was trying to convince me to leave the path of intellectual pursuits, writings and scholarship after my wife lost her tolerance on me. He quoted many examples from his experiences of people who were idealists, some did not marry whole life, turned communists (or were communists), became agnostics out of their scepticism and all of them ended up in alienation and loneliness, and according to him solitary confinement. He gave an example of an old communist whom my father saw buying bread from a tandoor, sick and destitute; he never married his whole life. He was such a handsome person during his youth that ladies would fall for him every now and then. Still he did not marry and ended up in this horrible loneliness. It definitely scared me but I was still adamant to know the reason of those people’s content.
Let me put all blame on them, those driven by passion; utopians and idealists. The psychological analysis of their private lives revealed that those people had set some highest standards, bookish and utopian, for them, which were not acceptable to normal people. They think that caring about the matching of curtains’ colour schemes did not matter, they would never give importance to groceries nor will they care about utility bills, they think that everything is trivial unless having a higher cause according to their ideals. They abandon the thought of luxury and comfort in simple and routine things. They think that this way they can think better and can advance their ideals. Quite often they do succeed in leaving their mark but at the cost of their own private lives. These people, driven by passion, would sacrifice their loved ones, their daily lives and their social standings. They end up being misfit, abnormal and crazy people. Narcissists to some, cynics to others and yet content to themselves.
It is not that they did not try. They were loved, admired and idealized by more people than the ordinary folk. But this idealism, call it a curse or a gift, would prove to be of no benefit to their own selves. The normal people who would admire them, love them or even idealize them, could not bear the very fact that these crazy people cannot pass ordinary life. Their admirers forget that this is the very thing that makes them different and desirable, that makes their individuality precious and that makes them unfit as normal human beings. Another agony that they face is that they cannot adjust with the people of their own kind due to their individuality; example of famous poet Jaun Elia in this regard can be pondered upon. Their content comes from the admittance of the fact that there is a time in their lives when they have to choose what is important; their passion, their idealism or relations and a normal life? All of them chose the former. The content lies in their freedom to choose at this point.
For many of the normal folks these poor individuals, abandoned and lonely are afflicted to agony and pain but in reality their selfishness in their choice is what makes the same people admire them. Admire them or abandon them but you cannot keep them in normal and trivial cages of societal standards. Their minds have been set free and they cannot be encaged any longer. Only this way they could make that difference in the world, make it a better place, if not for their loved ones but for the generations to come. This very fact is the source of their contentment. These people, driven by passion, are abnormal folks and they would proudly embrace this fact. Even if they fail to make a difference, which they rarely do, they would set examples for other crazy people. I found the source of their contentment.
Akif Khan is a social activist and a blogger. He tweets at @akifzeb.